By Addison Wright
This year, I participated in the Summer Youth Leadership Program, which is run by Northwest Asian Weekly. I am going to be a senior at Newport High School next year. I play tennis and I dabble in other sports as well. It was really fun to get to know people from outside our normal group of friends.
However, the program is gauged towards those of mostly full Asian descent. I, however, happen to be half Chinese and half white. Because of this, I felt it was harder to participate in the conversations and presentations, especially about stereotypes.
Although I was a half-Asian participant, I still felt very welcome and not at all excluded. I have always been proud of being a half-Asian. “The best of both worlds,” I would tell myself when thinking of my heritage. Despite my positive attitude though, it is sometimes hard not being fully one race or the other, especially in social situations.
Thankfully, my friends are not too picky on things like race, even though they are all Asian. Even with this though, I felt that the program was very informative and opened my eyes to many stereotypes and its historical context that I was not yet aware of.
One of my favorite speakers was [University of Washington Professor] Connie So. Her presentation was very informative and showed me things I didn’t even know existed.
Until seeing her presentation, I had no idea how deep the racism against Asians ran and how it is still very prevalent in today’s society. It made me realize how the stereotypes came to be and how I can choose to ignore them and even try to change them.
What struck me the most was the Passive Asian Male (PAM) stereotype, partly because it affects me directly, but also because it is so true. PAMs are what all people assume Asians are like, passive and quiet without much opinion. And perhaps we do act like that when around people of other races, but I know for a fact that around our own kind, we are very opinionated.
For example, I am half Cantonese, and my relatives get loud, really loud. So I guess what we as Asians need to do is that we do have a voice and it should be heard. ♦
Editor’s note: The ideas here do not necessarily represent Northwest Asian Weekly’s stance